I just finished reading “Physics of the Future” by Prof. Michio Kaku. In Chapter 7, Future of Wealth Winners and Losers, the Professor predicts that the future is up for grabs because innovation, rather than the type of industry is likely to decide the final outcome. He presciently claims economies that cultivate and nourish science and technology will emerge as leaders in their own right. He correctly argues,
Some congressmen have tried to eliminate the H1B visa because, they claim, it takes jobs away from Americans, but they do not understand the true role that this visa plays. Usually, there are no Americans qualified to take the highest-level jobs in Silicon Valley, which we’ve seen often go unfilled as a consequence…These H1B immigrants do not take away jobs, they create entire new industries.
According to the Pew Research Center, one of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.
And yet, according to Professor Michio Kaku, despite these awful numbers, the United States continues to do well internationally in science and technology, until you realize that much of the U.S. science comes from overseas, in the form of the “brain drain”. This would include highly qualified engineers and scientists leaving home for better opportunities in the U.S. – a chance to start afresh and boldly go where no one has been before.
The Pew Research Center conducted yet another research study in June of 2015; according to the findings of this study: As the last of this year’s crop of U.S. college graduates march across the stage to receive their diplomas, more of them than ever are likely to be from overseas. In fact, a new Pew Research Center analysis of degrees granted by American colleges and universities shows that foreign students earn more than half of the advanced degrees in many science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. In fact according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, foreign students comprise 56.9% of all doctoral degrees in engineering; 52.5% of all doctorates in computer and information sciences; and half of all doctorates in mathematics and statistics!
The H1B Visa is rightfully a key indicator of technological advancement and innovation and should, in the immediate future, keep America ahead despite the current lack of depth in Science and Engineering graduates. Innovation in industries of the future can be fueled by entrepreneurs entering with fresh ideas and a burning desire to be part of the American dream. We have in no way contributed to their education and enhancement, but can still derive a tremendous advantage by channeling their innovation and industry for our own benefit. Congress should therefore consider carefully before passing legislation that could have the proverbial effect of killing the “golden goose” and rendering the U.S. a victim of a lost future!